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Maestros Jose Antonio Abreu, Founder of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra Of Venezuela receive the 2014 Abu Dhabi Festival Awards for their unparalleled commitment to youth and music

Gustavo Dudamel 29th Jan 2014




The Emirates Palace was the scene of one of the most unique performances in world music last night with Gustavo Dudamel & The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra Of Venezuela winning the hearts of an enthralled Abu Dhabi audience. Masterful performances of works by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven as well as a crowd-pleasing signature encore bursting with Latin-American rhythms rendered the Abu Dhabi audience awe-struck.  

As a part of the Festival’s ongoing commitment to Emirati young musicianship, Gustavo Dudamel & The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra Of Venezuela concert was preceded by a performance by 3 Emirati soloists: Khawla Al Raihy, Mira Ghobash and Umaima Al Shunnar, accompanied by fellow members of the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO), conducted by its founder Riad Kudsi. Some of the UAE’s brightest and youngest talent warmed the audience and gave a very special national context to the evening.

Playing a favourite repertoire, superstar Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, one of the most exciting conductors in the world today, led The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela through an epic concert that affirmed the orchestra’s position as one of the leading spectacles in international classical music. The accessibility of fresh interpretations of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven brought to life Western classical music for the UAE audience, encapsulating the shared vision of the Abu Dhabi Festival and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela to create access to music for all and inspire young people to embrace this eminent art form both as musicians and audience members.

Attending the performance, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development, ADMAF Patron and President, said: “the Gustavo Dudamel and Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela concert represents a unique addition to the strengthening of cultural relations with North and South America, and it reflects the commitment of the Abu Dhabi Festival to provide a platform for cultural and civilizational dialogue, through building bridges of communication between the East and West of the World, and between the Arabic and the Latin American culture."

His Excellency stressed: “The Abu Dhabi Festival is developing a creative platform for young musicians within the UAE to interact with like-minded international musicians. Youth empowerment and the incubation of the youth’s creative skills is a priority that lies at the heart of the UAE leadership’s attention, in order to serve the cultural renaissance of the country and its sustainable development."

Following the performance, H.E. Mrs. Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “The Abu Dhabi Festival fulfills a role in society beyond entertainment. It affirms Abu Dhabi's place as a cultural capital and contributes to its cultural, educational and socio-economic growth. Furthermore, it reflects the ambition and determination of the UAE 2021 Vision to foster a cohesive society founded upon a rich heritage and a spirit of openness, respect and understanding.


“Over the ten years of the Abu Dhabi Festival, the UAE capital has become an incubator of innovative, artistic expression and a gateway to creativity due to the national, regional and world premieres and debut appearances of internationally acclaimed artists and orchestras it presents and the investment it has made in upholding our cultural heritage and nurturing the nation's creative practitioners. With an unparalleled energy and dynamism, The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel is not only helping to broaden the appeal of classical music around the world but also to demonstrate the social value and educational impact of music. The Orchestra's first performance in the UAE as our pre-festival concert this year befits the 2014 Festival Theme, 'Creative Innovation' which seeks to emphasise the fundamental importance of music (and the arts in general) in the development of creativity and innovation across society for the broader benefit of all. I sincerely hope that this concert proved both magical, memorable and meaningful for members of the audience; an experience that expressed the full value of the arts.”


“We are committed to the youth of the UAE and we hope such spectacular performances, coupled with our widespread education and community initiatives develop audiences for the arts and help nurture every level of musicianship. Through music, society is nourished, education is enhanced and our country's youth are nurtured."


By creating a culture of encouragement, ADMAF firmly believes that music can be an agent of social change by enabling young people to fulfil their potential. In support of this commitment, the Abu Dhabi Festival engaged 200 local students with the ‘Festival in Focus’ initiative that saw the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela interact directly with the young students; giving them first-hand experience of the talented musical orchestra.


In recognition of a uniquely outstanding contribution to arts and culture, Patron & President of the Abu Dhabi Festival HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture Youth & Community Development presented the 2014 Abu Dhabi Festival Award in association with Chopard to the Founder of the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation, Jose Antonio Abreu, in a ceremony witnessed by the sold-out concert audience. Maestro Gustavo Dudamel was presented with his 2014 Abu Dhabi Festival Award in association with Chopard in a private ceremony following the Orchestra’s historical debut appearance in the UAE.


Performance Notes:


There is something about the distinctive background of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela that emits an energy and charm that is utterly unique. The orchestra’s exquisite interpretation of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, where the connection between conductor and orchestra is reflected in the strength of their fluidity and masterful expression, allows the audience rare access into the heart and soul of some of the world’s greatest pieces of classical music.

The vibrant and energetic performance that delighted Abu Dhabi audiences last night paid homage to the rigorous technicality of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven’s works, and presented a fresh perspective of their musical genius with some added South American flavour.

Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, said: “Together with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, it is a real pleasure and honour to bring our music to the Abu Dhabi Festival. We hope that we have managed to share with Abu Dhabi our energy, the magic of music, the power of music, and the happiness it creates.”

The Abu Dhabi Festival’s 11th edition under this year’s theme ‘Creative Innovation’ is the UAE’s premiere cultural event; bringing the best in international and regional dance, opera, music, and visual arts to the Emirates each year. The Festival commences on the 2nd March with nationwide education and community programmes. Its main programme of performances by Herbie Hancock, Renée Fleming, Miloš Karadaglić, the American Ballet Theatre, European Union Youth Orchestra, Michel Fadel and others runs from 21st to 31st March, with Bill Fontana’s World Premier Exhibition continuing until 20th April.